Avery Homestead is county acquisition priority

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By LINDA LEUZZI

The cool, fall weather on Sunday highlighted the bucolic beauty of the 11.5-acre Avery property, with its meandering trees, wishing well, two 19th-century buildings, and especially the Dutch colonial barn, now 91 years old. “The interested parties have come here a couple of times to take measurements,” commented Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), who has led the preservation effort to save the parcel and its buildings, with Brookhaven councilman Neil Foley (R,C I) joining in to partner on this East Patchogue parcel. “The barn is beautiful,” Foley said, looking at it.

Apparently, others think so, too. Two local businessmen with restaurant background are enthusiastic in turning the barn into a destination venue.

It’s another turn of the wheel to save this property, as the county voted to place the Avery Homestead on their acquisition priorities list earlier this month.

“The Division of Real Property, Acquisition and Management is authorized to make the offer.  It means that within the next week or two Mr. [Charles] Wakefield will receive a letter with the amount of the appraisal value,” said Calarco of the family owner.

“We don’t negotiate,” he added. But, Calarco pointed out that in this case, the current owner wouldn’t have to tear down structures, sparing that expense.

“The property has historical structures, so we wouldn’t want the owner to remove them,” he said. That includes the 1820 gambrel-roof house built by John Avery, badly in need of renovation, will stay put. (The 1880 Queen Anne home where Barbara Avery lived until 2017 when she died, is in decent shape.)

Calarco was mum on the county’s appraisal offer. “I think it’s a fair price,” he said. “I hope the property owner agrees.”

The Avery family’s historical essence has made its stamp here, starting with Humphrey Avery. The property, which once sprawled over 200 acres, has been owned and inhabited by the Averys here since the 17th century, and the huge boulder fronting South Country Road notes the timeline of its descendants.  So besides being a priority to residents in East Patchogue, Patchogue and Bellport, nonprofit organizations, like The Peconic Land Trust, Preservation Long Island, Greater Patchogue Historical Society, the Post-Morrow Foundation, the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society and the Patchogue Arts Council, have all expressed the importance of saving it.

“The county will take the lead on who might be able to run the barn and the other buildings, but the legislator and I have been communicating on this property and I passed a resolution for the town to put up 30 percent of the purchase price. So we’re very passionate about it,” said Foley.

Tricia Foley, director of the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society, had a hand in the barn contact.

“I made the connection for the county,” Tricia Foley admitted. “These two guys were interested in finding a historic building and when the Avery property came up, I took them over to Rob [Calarco] and [Suffolk County director of Historic Services] Richard Martin. They are local; one of them has had restaurant experience, and his business partner for the project is a lawyer who has represented restaurants. We had a meeting a month ago; everyone was very happy about it.” Foley said the partners are interested in the communities and are eager to work with the area’s arts organizations. “They’re looking at dedicating part of the space to the community,” she said.

Greater Patchogue Historical Society treasurer Steve Lucas said his organization has been at the table, too.

“What we offered, if it came down to the purchase, is that we would help with fundraising for restoration of the 1820 house. If it could be restored, we’d curate it or open it for public viewing, similar to Swan River Schoolhouse down the road.  We’d still be headquartered in the lower level of the Carnegie.” 

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